Les États généraux du film documentaire 2007 Bosses


In 1978, Gérard Mordillat and Nicolas Philibert directed La Voix de son maître, a successful attempt to approach a protected, closed world, that of company directors, whose public speech is highly controlled and rarely staged. The world of bosses is of course also the world of labour. And what is exposed for reflection in this film is a political vision of the world, even if the use of this term provokes wide mistrust among the directors of large companies. This film on the discourse of bosses exposes their visions of the world, sometimes between the words but more often explicitly. The most surprising is their relative naivety, their misunderstanding of the power of cinema or their scorn of the spectator’s intelligence. This kind of film would be impossible today. People are too aware of the power of the image, of the control of the media by the institutions of power, speech has become too controlled. And in spite of this, the language used continues to reveal an ideology at work. How can cinema capture this discourse? What does it allow us to see and to hear? From what position?

Imagining the world from the point of view of the boss, this is the object of François Caillat’s project in recounting the construction of a perfect world in Bienvenue à Bataville. The film, guided by the deceased industrial captain Thomas Bata (subjective camera and voice over), a visionary master, retraces the establishment of a paternalist system with distinct totalitarian leanings. François Caillat follows his radical choice of direction to its final consequences where everything is orchestrated by the boss, even th: Mira Perlov, Yaël Perlov, and Ariel Schweitzer.e speech of the workers, communicating unease and the power of the system.

How does an ideology insidiously contaminate a system, an organisation, attitudes, bodies, language? Eric Hazan in his book LQR, la propagande du quotidien (1), analyses this impregnation of language by contemporary free-market thinking. He names LQR, Lingua Quintae Respublicae (of the 5th Republic) making reference to the LTI, Lingua Tertii Imperii, the language of the third Reich deciphered by Victor Klemperer in his diary – intelligently adapted for the screen by Stan Neumann in his film La langue ne ment pas. This comparison made by Hazan enriched the work by Nicolas Klotz and Elizabeth Perceval in their adaptation for the cinema of the novel by François Emmanuel, La Question humaine (2). As a fiction film, it redeploys differently the influences described and plunges us into the world of the company, mixing the private life of some to imagine how the pernicious contamination of bodies and spirits by the doctrines of the free-market functions for a whole generation, and the life spent by others, company directors, inheritors of Nazism and organisation managers.

Three ways to stage the problem to which a fourth voice is missing, that of the boss at work. In direct cinema style, Arlette Buvat, in the closed world of a young company of security guards, confronts us with the edifying reality of recruiting a team for the surveillance of luxury shops. What is said, what is exchanged there, is also the world as it is. The film will not be finished in August but we hope to project this programme again and to lengthen it in Paris.

Guests : (1) LQR, la propagande du quotidien, Éditions Raisons d'agir, 2006.
(2) La Question humaine, Stock, 2000.

Invités : Nicolas Klotz et Elisabeth Perceval, François Caillat, Nicolas Philibert.